Facing a 3-1 series deficit, the Knicks will look to extend the series when they return to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 against the Heat. On the other hand, the Miami Heat are just one win away from their third trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in the last four seasons.
Heat continue to impress
The Heat dominated the Knicks in both Games 3 and 4 on their home floor. We all know about Jimmy Butler and his presence as a playoff performer, but the rest of the Heat team has stepped up when they needed it most.
All-Star center Bam Adebayo has had his fingerprints all over this series. He has done an excellent job of containing the likes of Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, and Isaiah Hartenstein while limiting the Knicks’ second-chance opportunities on the offensive boards. This was a big part of what made the Knicks one of the most efficient offenses in NBA history throughout the course of the regular season.
Max Strus continues to shoot the ball well while providing tenacious energy on the defensive end for the Heat. In Game 4, Strus sunk four three-pointers in addition to providing one steal and one block. He has filled in more than admirably for the injured Tyler Herro and should continue to play a large role for this team.
Coming into this series, the Knicks were expected to have a convincing advantage in terms of bench personnel, but that has not been the case through four games. Caleb Martin and Kyle Lowry continue to provide a tremendous spark off the bench for the Heat in addition to timely three-point shooting from Duncan Robinson. Lowry’s playmaking off the bench has provided stability for the second unit while Martin’s two-way efforts have made it tough to head coach Erik Spoelstra to take him off the court.
Caleb Martin is a winner and a playoff riser pic.twitter.com/MJLIejN9cG
— optimistic Heat fan (@kellyoburner) May 9, 2023
Julius Randle continues to struggle
Julius Randle has struggled mightily throughout this series. While he shot the ball efficiently in Game 4, he also managed to foul out of the game. It was the first time he shot over 50 percent from the field in his postseason career. The efficient shooting was refreshing to see, but he continues to be disengaged and uninterested on both the defensive end of the floor and the boards. The Knicks go as Julius Randle goes; unfortunately, it hasn’t gone well for Randle.
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Who will step up for the Knicks?
While Randle has struggled, RJ Barrett has taken it upon himself to try and give the Knicks a spark. Through the first four games of the series, Barrett is averaging 22 points to go along with 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Unfortunately for RJ Barrett and the Knicks, that production has not been enough to overcome the Heat’s relentlessness.
If the Knicks want any chance at extending this series given the current circumstances, Jalen Brunson is going to have to be the best player on the floor on a nightly basis from here on out. Brunson has eclipsed the 20-point mark in all nine of the Knicks postseason games this year, scoring 30 or more in two of the last three.
Immanuel Quickley missed game 4 due to an ankle injury and was seen in a walking boot. it is safe to say that his status for Game 5 is doubtful at best, which opens the door for Jalen Brunson to play 40 minutes or more yet again.
Between the struggles of Julius Randle, Immanuel Quickley’s absence, and the Knicks’ sudden sense of urgency, Jalen Brunson should have no issue going over his point total of 25.5. The Knicks are counting on Brunson to force a Game 6.
My Pick: Jalen Brunson o25.5 points (-109 odds via Caesar’s Sportsbook)